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Washington • Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman says he is not going to mount an independent bid for the White House even as he acknowledged the pressure he's fielding from those concerned about the current state of the GOP presidential race.
"I always want to help my country where I can, but you don't want to embark on a suicide mission," Huntsman told USA Today's Capital Download. "I'm not ready for a third-party run until we have a complete collapse of the Republican Party that I can still believe in."
Huntsman, the co-chairman of the anti-partisan group No Labels and chairman of the Atlantic Council, has previously ruled out a 2016 White House race saying he'd rather remain on the sidelines, urging the candidates to seek bipartisan solutions. But he noted that he gets "hit up by a lot of people" about a run.
The former 2012 Republican presidential candidate, who withdrew from the race after a disappointing showing in New Hampshire's primary, said he, too, sees the concern about the GOP race this time around and frets about the fracturing inside his party.
"We don't have an overarching coalescing theme in the Republican Party," Huntsman told USA Today's Susan Page.
Saying business mogul Donald Trump may be the "favorite" in the Republican contest and could win the nomination, Huntsman added that it's clear why.
"People really are hungry for change," he said.
"They were last time, but it really hadn't hit the 212-degree boiling point. This time it has. And that's why I think Donald Trump despite sometimes the over-the-top rhetoric that would have done in any other candidate in earlier election cycles probably has some real legs."
While Huntsman says Trump could grab the GOP nod, the former Utah governor isn't convinced Trump could win a general election because his rhetoric is "white-hot and really playing on the emotions of fear."
Huntsman said he will vote Republican in the presidential general election, but he wavered when asked what he would do if Trump was the GOP nominee.
"I'll have to wait and see where Donald Trump finds himself as he gets toward the general election, if in fact he wins the nomination," Huntsman said.